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Movie journey with Mr Minio

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Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
Sooner or later it had to be done. The fact why I've chosen sooner is completely irrelevant. Well, you wouldn't care anyway. Inspired by numerous lists on this forum I decided to create my own. The main goal is to get a lot of... ekhm, expand other people's tastes and present my own views on cinema as well. This will not be an ordinary journey, though. On our way, we shall transcend time, genres and geographical difficulties freely crossing the borders between old and new, rich and austere and so on. That's a never-ending story, but we can't be sure how long we could be forced to stay. Intervals are something we need to fully comprehend the things we've seen on our way. But enough talk. Fasten your seatbelts, embrace your buttcheeks and prepare yourself for a movie journey with Mr Minio!

Oh, and one more word. It's gonna be long, so if you don't like reading, well... I've added some photos especially for you!

Part 1 - USSR & Russia

Our story begins in Russia. A motherland of Tzars, bolsheviks and many glorious directors. Not a good comparison I'd say. I shouldn't have put these 3 in one sentence. Anyway, USSR cinema greatly differs from later Russian cinema. It often shows brave Russian soldiers struggling and fighting with the enemy to defend their homeland. It may be seen as propaganda, but as for me most of these films don't really differ from American war movies. In both the soldiers deliver sobby claims saying they believe they've died for their country etc. The only disadvantage I find in films of this period is they usually depict Russia as a country of wealth and prosperity, but it's not a big problem when you're watching an absorbing film.



Since, more or less, I've been talking about Soviet war films, I'd like to focus on that topic in the first place. And the best place to start I believe is Come and See by Elem Klimow. It's one of the most violent films I've ever seen. However, its violence is not represented by a big amount of blood and guts seen on the screen. Yeah, some scenes are really disturbing, but it's more of a psychological drama, in which the atrocities of war are shown through the psyche of a young boy. There's no need to give a short synopsis, as I believe even a short summary may be a spoiler. Just watch it so we can continue. No, really? Nope. I'll already start with another film, but reading this small guide and watching the movies simultaneously would be a nice experience, wouldn't it? If you only have some patience... My rating:




If you're still interested in brutal Soviet film that depicts war, you don't have to look too far. Klimow's wife Larisa Sheptiko made a movie called The Ascent, which I believe is a perfect choice after Come and See. It's harsh and austere but deals with quite different topic. Also it features a great actor Anatoli Solonitsyn you may know from Tarkovsky movies. My rating:




Being tired or frightened of previous films, you probably would like to see something different. And here comes At Dawn It's Quiet Here. A film that delivers some lightness. The director didn't forget it's a war film, though, so we've got a lot of firing and even some knife fights. Besides one guy, who looks like typical kolkhoznik, the cast is filled with nice ladies, so it's always delightful to watch them and there's a scene of them taking a bath. Was it enough to recommend the movie? I know it was you kinky little thing, you! My rating:




The first Tarkovsky full-length film, Ivan's Childhood, was one big annoucement of his later works. The poetry oozing from the screen and long nicely-composed shots have later become his trademarks. Even though, I believe that one should watch Stalker first, when starting with Tarkovsky, watching Ivan's Childhood may be a great experiment considering the fact it's the simplest and the most accessible of his works. My rating:




The Cranes Are Flying is a really powerful melodrama with some impressive cinematography and acting. It shows how cruel war can be. Some shots are very long and it's fun to watch the camera following the character, be it in a crowd of people, or in the staircase. The ending is incredibly moving as well. I can't remember any bath scenes, but
should do. Now I only have to watch I am Cuba. My rating:




Fate of a Man directed by Sergey Bondarchuk, who also played the protagonist is another great and harsh drama about war. Bondarchuk gives an outstanding performance and empties a mug of vodka in one of the best scenes in the movie. Waterloo is another director's masterpiece and it also deals with a war. More precisely it's about Waterloo Battle, so it's really worth to see if you're an history buff like me. My rating:




Ballad of a Soldier is another great Soviet melodrama. It made me cry several times throughout the film. The director introduces the characters in a way it's hard to don't sympathize with them. My rating:


Few observations:
1. It wasn't as long as I expected.
2. It wasn't as good as I expected.
3. I am as demanding as I expected.
4. Damn, it takes a lot of time.
5. More people outta here should watch Soviet/Russian films!

To be continued in part II where we will look into more sophisticated side of Russian cinema.



Im really looking forward to this thread and very nice post to start of with!

So far I have seen Come and See (
), The Ascent (
) and Ivans Childhood (
), all of those are great movies and among my top war movies.

The Cranes are Flying is on my watchlist. The rest i haven't heard about, but will definitely look them up.

I hope Lopushansky and Sokurov is going to show up somewhere

Anyway keep up the good work!



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
I've seen them all, except Fate is a Man, and I've only seen the edited version of And Quiet Flows the Dawn. The Bondarchuk film is at the top of my queue, I own his War and Peace and I saw Waterloo at the theatre when it came out. I'd recommend all your films to everyone too.

EDIT - Oops! I haven't seen The Dawns Here Are Quiet.
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Great thread! I'm guessing that from all your journey I will be unfamiliar with most of the films but it will help to choose what to watch later.

I've seen only a small amount of USSR films but I always feel that I understand them better than any other country cinema.No matter how surreal or harsh,they always seem familiar but that's because my country has nearly the same culture as Russian.

From these films I've seen Come And See and Ivan's Childhood,they both left me a strange impression.I've seen Waterloo,I liked it so maybe I will check out Fate Of a Man.
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"Anything less than immortality is a complete waste of time."



Ivan's Childhood

Come and See
(entertainment value rating
)

I have a certain ideological problem with Come and See.

Ivan's Childhood is Tarkovsky's worst movie but still better than over 90% of all other movies. Tarkovsky didn't have full creative control of Ivan's Childhood, so it isn't a 100% Tarkovsky film in fact.



5. More people outta here should watch Soviet/Russian films!
Indeed, when most people think of non-English movies they think of Western European movies. People should also watch more Indian, Chinese, Russian and Japanese films as well, these four countries combined have produced many more films than Hollywood.



Just one thing about Soviet cinema a cool cartoon Junior and Karlson, it's for kids, and I'm not sure if there's a subtitled version out there, but that's pretty much the cartoon I grew up on. Also Battleship Potemkin is a phenomenal film, not sure if this will be mentioned during the more sophisticated side. Love the idea, subscribed.
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Yeah, there's no body mutilation in it



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
I hope Lopushansky and Sokurov is going to show up somewhere
Lopushansky will show up for sure. Not sure what to do with Sokurow as I've seen only one film directed by him. Probably will see more and he will return in some kind of annex or supplement list.

Guaporense, I tried to discuss your rating in another thread (critically acclaimed films you hated or something like that) but can't remember whether you answered.

People should also watch more Indian, Chinese, and Japanese
A lot of films from these countries will show up later. Especially from Japan. Not too much from India, though.

a cool cartoon Junior and Karlson
Haven't seen it, but animations will have their spot too as well.

Also Battleship Potemkin is a phenomenal film, not sure if this will be mentioned during the more sophisticated side.
Not only this but also some other Eisenstein films! There's a lot to come!



these four countries combined have produced many more films than Hollywood.
Maybe that's because they are four countries combined.

annex or supplement list.
What's an annex list?
__________________
"Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
Part 2 - USSR & Russia - continued

This time as I've said we will take a look into more sophisticated side of Russian cinema. When talking about the subject, it's hard not to mentionAndrei Tarkovsky, who I believe is the most known and praised director hailing from the biggest country in the world. Although his last two films were produced outside USSR, one could see his yearning for motherland. He had to leave the country, but he stayed there forever with his spirit.


Andrey Rublyov played by Anatoli Solonitsyn.

After Ivan's Childhood, Tarkovsky directed Andrey Rublyov
, which tells the story of famous Russian icon maker. It's set in Medieval Russia - the time of Tatars invasions, peasant rebellions and famine. After that he directed Solaris - an adaptation of a book written by Polish sci-fi writer Stanisław Lem. The writer wasn't satisfied with the final outcome, but Tarkovsky didn't seem to give a damn. I mean, look at the writers. They are never satisfied with the screenings of their works. Let's take Stephen King and Kubrick for instance. Anyway, the main plea of Lem, who was an atheist, was that Tarkovsky added some religious themes into the story. After Solaris Tarkovsky has released arguably his most poetic and ambitious film.


Good God! Look at the composition of this shot from The Mirror.

The Mirror is a really complicated film with a structure similar to a dream. Anyway, there's an anecdote saying that after a screening of the film in one of the cinemas a group of movie critics and experts stays for a while to share their thoughts, but they don't seem to find the point of the film, so they just keep talking about it. It's getting late, so the cleaning lady shows up, notices the conversation and joins the talk. She claims she understood the movie and gives her simple and quick explanation surprising all the critics. Tarkovsky who still has been in the cinema was asked to comment woman's interpretation. He said he has nothing to add. Cool story, eh? You don't have to be a nobleman to watch ambitious films and seek a real art in the movies.


Three fellows walk on the meadows and in the ruins for 2 hours.

By the end of the seventies, Tarkovsky being at the peak of his artistic powers released his most known film. Stalker, an interpretation of Roadside Picnic by Strugatsky Brothers. It's a very special movie, which combines the great themes of the book, spices them up with philosophical mantle and adds an outstanding cinematography. Georgi Rerberg did a great job in both The Mirror and Stalker. It's the use of something I call intelligent camera I love in these films. At the beginning of the movie there's a shot of people lying on the bed. The camera observes them and then respectfully moves back through the door frame. Not to mention the great takes on the railway. The car vanishes, the camera records something else, and then the car appears again. It's hard to write about it. One has to see it to fully appreciate it.Just watch it.


The man walking back and forth for 2 minutes with the candle in his hands.

Next, there comes Nostalghia. The movie made in Italy, far from Tarkovsky's home. The fact it's not in Russia does not stop the director from creating another masterpiece. The technical side, as always, is just breathtaking. The story once again - poetic and engimatic. The last Tarkovsky film - The Sacrifice - was kind of Bergman-like. And it shouldn't be too surprising considering the fact it was made in Bergman's country, with Bergman's cinematographer, Sven Nykvist(another genius), and with one of Bergman's actors - Erland Josephson. The film is considered to be Tarkovsky's artistic testament. There's a scene in the film where they have to destroy an enormous "decoration"(don't want to spoil too much), but when recording they screwed something up so they had to rebuild the decoration and record it again. The shot we're talking about lasts for a few minutes. Here's the end of the great Tarkovsky, who died in 1986 leaving seven masterpieces. It's interesting how many directors made some kind of a tribute to his works - be it as a subtitle at the end of their film, or evident reference.


Nice panorama in The Banishment.

The references in general are seen in the works of contemporary Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, who even included a scene very similar to the one from Stalker in his second film The Banishment
. He made 3 full-length films, 2 of which I consider masterpieces. The Return and The Banishment are outstanding pieces of art and proofs that contemporary Russian cinema is one of the best in the world.


Do I really have to comment this picture? Really? Elena.

The Return was the first film Zvyagintsev ever directed... damn, the way these names are spelt in an English way is horrible. In a Polish way it's spelt Zwiagincew which is far more similar to the way it's actually pronounced in Russian, but well, we are both Slavic nations. Anyway,
The Return has immediately given Zwja..Zvy...Zvia.. HIM a great recognition among the fans of arthouse. He was called the second Tarkovsky and was believed to be his spiritual successor. It's pretty rare to make a debut an instant masterpiece. Look at Kubrick for instance. Or Bergman. They started making decent movies and got their mastery after few films. He got it instantly. After he announced he's working on the second movie many people didn't believe he can repeat the success of his debut. Some people were disappointed, but The Banishment was appreciated among the critics. It got Palme d'Or for the best actor for Konstantin Lavronenko. I'd say the second film of Zvyagintsev is even more mystical than the first one. Maybe it's the minimalistic music of Arvo Pšrt, or the terrific cinematography of Mikhail Krichman. Hard to say. Director's last film up to date - Elena - is quite worse than the rest. It's also quite different in style, so I wouldn't call it inferior. Just unlike the other two. It's a great film, anyway.


The first Zvyagintsev film that granted him recognition.

Contemporary Russian cinema is full of young directors, who didn't make too much films. However, the quality of these flicks is astonishing. Let's take Ivan Vyrypayev for instance. His film Euforia was one of the strongest film experiences I've ever had. A combination of glorious cinematography, magnificent music
and compelling yet pretty simple story gives a mesmerizing effect. The feeling I got from this film is indescribable. Vyrypayev's second film - Oxygen - is so different I'd say it's almost an reverse of Euforia. Oxygen, built of several hip-hop songs(!!!) transfers so much contents it's hard to keep up with it. Damn it, I can't spoiler, so I can't write anything more, therefore I can't write a moral. But wait, there's this spoiler thingy... Read on your own risk:
WARNING: "Oxygen spoilers" spoilers below
Later the characters find out that all this talking was but a mumbling and the silence is the real answer to everything. Nope, the last part I made up. Anyway, it's some sort of that.

I really enjoyed Oxygen and I DON'T EVEN LIKE HIP-HOP. Loved the cinematography, especially the shots in the swimming pool. Profound experience.


I want these sneakers! Girl where'd ya soiled your dress? Euforia

We continue our long journey, wait... I am tired. Gotta fix me some sandwiches and you have to wait. Gonna be right back. Oh, I thought that I might fetch you some screens so you don't get bored. KTHXBAI.


That's a nice tree. The Sacrifice.


That's an awkward situation in Solaris.

...

...

...

I am back, so we can continue. Yuri Bykov - Zhit. And we've got very similar situation. Only one film. Great cinematography. Wise story. And for all the action film lovers, it's an action movie. A lot of shooting, but in an arthouse style. I haven't seen anything like that, or just don't remember right now. My rating:



Let's shoot some MoFos! Zhit.

Oh, and if anyone's interested, I rate all Tarkovsky films above
. Two Zvyaginntsev films
. Elena I rate
. Euforia I rate
. Oxygen I'm not sure how to rate.


Wow! Isn't Syberia beautiful? Siberia, Mon Amour.

Another impressive film is Siberia, Mon Amour by Slava Ross. It feels like Russian Amores Perros, only better. It's really interesting how many great movies Russians produced over last 20 years.



Aren't you a bit lonely outta here? How I Ended This summer.

Here come another great flicks:
-Silent Souls -

-How I Ended This Summer -

-Yuri's Day -

-Russian Ark -


You can classify them all as arthouse cinema.


Due to the disturbing content of most Cargo 200 screens I decided to post a picture of kittens instead. Sincerely, Mr Minio.

Some of the films I've described before were quite disturbing and violent to some extent. They had its brutal scenes, but it's nothing compared to the movie Cargo 200. You see, in the times of Soviet Union, directors couldn't present their country's flaws, so they've been showing all the people being happy and stuff. Given that, all the bad things were secretly concealed. After the fall of USSR, Russian directors began to show all the atrocities of living in USSR. Many films present the misery of the people, but Cargo 200 does it in the most horrific way. It shows the pathology at its worst. I don't really want to spoil too much, but the things you can see in this film could be really shocking to some audiences. My rating:



Are you sure you know how to use it, madam?

Russians are really fond of their art. Especially the writers like Dostoyevsky. His book Crime and Punishment is known worldwide, so it shouldn't be very surprising it's been moved to the silver screen many times. The 1970 adaptation directed by Lev Kulidzhanov is my favourite. Even though, some parts of the plot have been omitted (religious elements and my favourite part of the book - the ending) it's still a well-made adaptation with great acting and scenery.



Oh come on, what's all the fuss about? I'm sure it's possible to repair these glasses!

When talking about Russian cinema one shouldn't forget about two names. Tarkovsky and Eisenstein. The Battleship Potemkin is arguably the greatest masterpiece of Sergei Eisenstein. This silent film from 1925 manages to work like very few silent films. It can absorb the people that don't even like silent cinema, so if you're getting it started with the beginnings of the film, I'd recommend watching either Potemkin or Dreyer's Joan of Arc, of which I shall write more... sooner or later. The movie affects the viewer so much thanks to the perfect montage of the scenes. Remember, it was in 1925 when a montage was a horrible chore. However, they managed to link the takes perfectly. The most known part of the film, Odessa stairway scene, belongs to one of my favourite silent movie era scenes. The way the stroller moves down on the stairs... Great. My rating:



Revolution was quite bloody I'd say. Ten Days That Shook the World.

If The Battleship Potemkin is not enough for you, you can also watch Ten Days That Shook the World and Alexander Nevsky. Both of them have some great scenes like the thin ice and horse on or rather off the bridge (trying to omit the spoilers).

It's the end of our journey. For now.


See ya!

To be continued in part III where we shall discover the cinema of Lopushansky, Russian animation and way, way more!

ndescribable



Really enjoy the way you are doing this thread. I probably wont be adding much because I probably will not have seen much. I think you will be loading up my watchlist however and want you to know the time you are obviously going to put into this is appreciated.
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Well this should be a very interesting thread as I continue my expansion of cinematic tastes. And you have me interested in this movie Zhit, which is good since the only Soviet film I have seen is Battleship Potemkin. Looking forward to the Japanese film review as well.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Awesome post! The Return affected me more than any Tarkovsky has, but I don't find it a "masterpiece" Ask Harry Lime, I'm a prejudiced, unwashed heathen. I still think viewers should watch all the films for themselves since there's a lot of beautiful imagery and deep philosophy to be found,



Can't wait for the Soviet animation portion, I've seen Hedgehog in the Fog and it's awesome.

This is seriously becoming one of my favorite threads! It also has me thinking about the possibility of doing a MoFo non-english language countdown thing if enough people were interested.



To be continued in part III where we shall discover the cinema of Lopushansky, Russian animation and way, way more!
Yeah, Russian animation is great. I posted a short or two here before (Tale of Tales and another I think) but I'm sure nobody watched it. And surely you don't want to leave out early masters such as Vertov, Dovzhenko, Pudovkin - Eisenstein wasn't the only one working back in the pre-war days of the Soviet Union. Also, since you seem keen on Russian film have you heard of, or seen, Aleksei German's films? If not check his films out. He died recently, but he has one last film being released this year after 10+ years of complacency. He's almost like the Russian Malick in that sense.

Ask Harry Lime, I'm a prejudiced, unwashed heathen.
It's true.